Interdisciplinary Assessment of Supplemental Instruction and Attitudes in STEM
This project is a thorough study of the impact of supplemental instruction (SI) across four broad undergraduate STEM disciplines in an institution that has fully institutionalized it as part of their instructional methods. Although the PIs believe that SI is both effective and an efficient adjunct to regular classroom instruction, there is still much that is not understood about how it works. The challenge being addressed in this project is to develop increased understanding of the mechanisms by which SI improves students' performance in content understanding and their attitudes and beliefs about learning in science and math courses. Improved understanding is the precursor to improved designs for SI. The project would approach this through a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary program of study of the impact of SI.
This project will document the extent to which SI impacts student conceptual understanding in 8 target courses across 4 departments: biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Surveys will be conducted in each course administered over 4 semesters. Measures employed are student grades, changes in conceptual understanding using already developed concept inventories, and changes in students' beliefs and attitudes towards science and mathematics. The affective realm of SI will also be investigated by interviewing SI leaders, analyzing their recorded interviews using hermeneutics. The host university is a nationally recognized leader in the development and use of Supplemental Instruction. Consequently, the results of this work will serve to further inform or enlighten the many other faculty instructions in numerous institutions that use SI or are in the process of instituting SI.